There's more to the iPhone app store than just games and business-related apps. In fact, there are a handful of iPhone apps that point towards a future of patients having more medical data at their fingertips. We look at three of these apps.

When you think about iPhone apps, the wealth of games, business-related and music apps probably spring to mind. However, there are a handful of iPhone apps that point towards a future of patients having more medical data at their fingertips.

We've looked at three smartphone applications that were showcased at an event held this summer by the US Department of Health and Human Services when it launched its Community Health Data Initiative.

The initiative is releasing healthcare data and encouraging developers to take the data and turn it into useful appls for patients, doctors, hospitals and public health officials.

The latest mobile apps are using the iPhone as a platform for two-way communications between patients and doctors designed to improve the nation's overall healthcare system.

"We're seeing a very exciting explosion in the number of small, personal devices as well as sensor networks and mobile phone apps that are dedicated to structuring, collecting and aggregating quality healthcare data," says David Van Sickle, president and CEO of healthcare start-up Reciprocal Sciences, which has created an asthma-related iPhone app.

"We're moving to more of a participatory community health data collection environment, where patients will be contributing into this data and not only benefitting from it."

1. iTriage

Created by two emergency room physicians, iTriage is a free app for iPhones, Android, Blackberry and other web-enabled devices. It provides patients with information about their symptoms and gives them advice about seeking medical attention for these symptoms. It also provides a list of nearby medical facilities including emergency rooms, hospitals, urgent care centers and doctors offices.

iTriage has more than one million providers of healthcare listed in the application, and it has attracted tens of thousands of users. iTriage makes money by selling premier listings to hospitals, pharmacies and doctors offices.

"If you're on holiday in New York, and you think you've got strep throat, iTriage will help you figure out what you might have and whether you need to go to a doctor, and if you do where it is based on your location," explains Jonathan White, vice president of sales and business development at Healthagen, a start-up that created iTriage.

The goal of iTriage is to help consumers make appropriate and cost-effective decisions about when and where to seek medical attention.

"If we can help consumers by not having them default to a hospital, then we can save the whole healthcare system money and make the system more efficient," White says.

Although iTriage was available before the Community Health Data Initiative was announced, White says he is excited about the prospects of integrating more government healthcare data into the application.

"As these mobile platforms get more and more robust, we have the ability to push more and more data out to patients. The more information that people have access to, the better medical decisions they will make," White says.

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